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New Birth member speaks out about lawsuit against Eddie Long
Bishop Eddie Long faces more legal trouble, this time from members of his church.
October 21st, 2011
06:04 AM ET

New Birth member speaks out about lawsuit against Eddie Long

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Lillian Wells said she had been laid off from her job, gone into real estate, and was looking for extra income when she went to church one Sunday and heard about a “sure thing.”

Two years later, Wells said her house is weeks away from foreclosure, she can barely pay for medication and she’s lost at least $122,000 in retirement savings.

“I’ve been hurt,” Wells said. “I’m looking for resolution and restitution at this point, and I haven’t gotten that.”

Wells’ story is at the center of a lawsuit that pits her against Bishop Eddie Long, one of the nation’s most well-known televangelists, and a charismatic investor who Long reportedly compared to Moses.

Wells and nine others are suing Long, claiming he “coerced” them into investing in a Ponzi scheme that wiped out at least $1 million in their retirement savings.

The lawsuit said Long persuaded members of New Birth Missionary Church in Georgia to invest with Ephren Taylor Jr., a “child-prodigy entrepreneur” representing City Capital Corp. The lawsuit also names Taylor and City Capital as defendants.

Art Franklin, a spokesman for Long, said neither Long nor New Birth would comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit comes six months after Long reached an out-of-court settlement with four men who had accused him of pressuring them into sexual relationships.

In  October 2009,  Long invited Taylor to New Birth for a weeklong seminar called the “Wealth Tour Live.” Taylor urged church members at the seminar to invest in “socially conscious investments” that would provide “guaranteed income,” according to the lawsuit filed in DeKalb County State Court.

Taylor, however, was not licensed to sell investments and City Capital was insolvent, information Long and New Birth knew or should have known, the lawsuit said.

“The entire Wealth Tour Live event and subsequent investments made by plaintiffs turned out to be nothing more than a fraudulent scheme designed to perpetuate an ongoing Ponzi scheme,” the lawsuit said.

Taylor could not be reached for comment. His one-time spokesperson said she no longer represented him and didn’t know how to contact him.

Calls to an Atlanta number for City Capital were met with a persistent busy signal.

Taylor, however, went public earlier this year after Long posted a YouTube video asking him to return about $1 million to New Birth members whose investments in City Capital had gone “sour.”

“Please do what’s right,” Long said, addressing Taylor in the video. “You’re a great fellow. You’re a great man. You do great things. Let’s settle this so these families can move on.”

Taylor responded with a public statement in which he said City Capital’s legal team had personally contacted New Birth to “resolve, refund and restructure any potential issues.”

Wells said she was never directly contacted by Taylor. She said she was contacted by some attorneys representing Taylor, who asked her to mail some documents to them so she could get her money back.

Wells said she mailed certified documents to a post office box given to her by the attorneys, but she did not hear from anyone and her letter was returned.

Wells, who has been a member of New Birth since 1987, said she was inspired when she first heard Taylor speak during a Sunday morning worship service at New Birth.

Long, according to the lawsuit, introduced Taylor to the congregation as a minister who would base everything he said on the word of God.

“They came down and said you don’t have to depend on the stock market, this is a sure thing, a guarantee of getting a return on your money because it’s not driven by the stock market,” she said.

When Long vouched for Taylor, Wells said she decided to invest her retirement savings. She never saw a return, though, and lost “in excess” of $122,000, the lawsuit claims.

Wells said she still attends and gives money to New Birth.

When asked if she trusted Long, she chuckled and sighed.

“That’s a difficult question. If I had the dollars to invest in something now, I wouldn’t go into one of the things that he would recommend.”

Though some of her co-plaintiffs have left New Birth, others remain, she said.

“We want to stay and see this through,” she said.

Wells said Long’s legal difficulties have taken a toll on the church. The church was half-full during summer worship services.

“It’s beginning to grow again,” she said. “People are coming back."

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Baptist • Christianity • Church • Courts • Pastors

soundoff (265 Responses)
  1. JTesh

    Not once in our entire history has a prophet claimed to be false!
    By the end of this century, religion will be all but gone except for a few nutters.

    October 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Scott - other

      What do you mean “By the end of this century”? It seems pretty will populated with them right now

      October 23, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  2. SMUG BELIEVER

    You have no right to judge this man!

    October 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Rick

      We certainly do.

      October 24, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Rick

      He is a closet queen, with a Jesus kink

      October 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  3. wait..

    He is a good Christian.. and a bishop.. don't your religion urge you to follow their teachers "blindly" without letting your mind to taint their god's message?

    As you sow, so you reap..

    October 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Scott - other

      Well, when you consider how easily they give up their reason to invest their faith in christianity it becomes pretty easy to understand how they gave up their reason to invest their money.

      October 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  4. Answer

    Should never invest in something without at least taking a look at the prospectus. Nothing is a sure thing in this life – they should have that thought firmly planted in their minds in the first place.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  5. Pravda

    These snake oil salesman forget the verse that says, "We do not peddle the Word of God for profit"...

    October 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  6. GG

    I still dont understand for the life of me why people follow these false prophets. Being a pastor is typically the next step down to being a drug dealer, except you are not pushing drugs your pushing religion. Poeple do not need these pastors in order for them to have a relationship with whatever god they choose to worship. Why should I have to pay you 10% of my earnings for you to tell me something in the bible that I can read for myself?

    October 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  7. cageordie

    Why is it that if a con artist claims God told him to do it then practically all legal protections cease to function? If there is separation of church and state then how come any fake religion gets a free ride from the law?

    October 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • B-b

      There might not be any "fake" religions, but all religions are scams.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  8. lastofall

    It is a sad commentary to hear professing Christians conducting themselves as does the secular world, and even supposing that gain is godliness. Such teaching are of another Jesus, a Jesus whose kingdom is of this world, which of course is not the true Lord and Savior. To twist the meaning of the Gospel of Christ is an easy thing for someone that is carnally minded, so that the hearers are flattered and are drawn into this world´s evil works. Christ describes such as blind leaders leading the blind, and unfortunately both are heading straight toward the ditch, except they repent.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • G-D

      Mat 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

      Jhn 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

      Luk 17:21 "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is inside/within you."

      1Cr 3:9 “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.”

      1Cr 3:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

      Be we a building or a temple, our bodies are but Kingdoms of a God whose family members and servants and armies live upon the inner domain of cellular cosmology, the stuff that the Gods and Goddesses do create.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • ?

      G-D

      Seriously, did you get your stash from a dispensary or do you grow it yourself?

      October 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Friedman

      Another wolf in sheep's clothing. I feel really bad for her and others who have had their dignity and money taken away. I feel sorry for those who watch Televangelist and that is all they believe that Christ is about. There are so many churches that don't fool people like this.

      October 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Lastofall..please do drag the secular world into the abyss of religion....by the way is this Adelina

      October 21, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  9. JF

    Don't worry folks. This is all part of God's master plan.

    October 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • B-b

      right along with the tidal waves, hurricanes, and epidemics.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  10. Regis990

    Dear Religion,

    Your time has past. Thanks for the persecutions, the genocide, the wars, the greed, the hate, the judgements, and the laughs.

    sincerely,
    Mankind

    October 21, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • cageordie

      Amen brother!

      October 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Friedman

      Dear Mankind,

      Thank you for nothing, It was I who gave you everything, but you still turn your back on what I did and call it " Mother Nature " It was I who gave you a chance for eternal life, but yet you still deny me. It was I who healed the blind and made the lame walk, but yet you still want more signs. Thank you for all that you have not done but I have for you. I know you are wanting more and more these days and I do give to you but I really want you to know I still love you and I'm still waiting for you to return to me.

      Love, In Christ,
      God.

      October 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • wait..

      Dear Friedman.. umm.. God,

      Tall words.. but still just words.. Prove it!

      Thanks,
      Mankind

      October 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      Dear god,

      Mankind created you. I know you won't read this little note because you don't exist. Don't we have the best imaginations?

      Love,
      Mankind

      October 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Friedman, re: "made the lame walk" how many amputated legs has your imaginary sky daddy regenerated?

      October 21, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  11. Cancerboy

    I hope this bishop guy wraps his miata around a tree.

    October 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  12. me

    CLEARLY, this fool is NO GOOD! First he had relationships with little boys, then this? How does he still have a church OR congregation?!

    October 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Regis990

      Because the people who follow him are simple sheep...

      October 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • The Sheep

      We take extreme offence at being compared down to these idiots

      October 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  13. Mark

    Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not defending the "good' Bishop. Anyone that would use their position of authority to take advantage of young people, in my opinion is probably capable of just about anything else. So, yes...he bears much responsibility here. BUT...I think these people also asked for it. ANYONE much passed the age of 5 knows there is no "sure thing". Anyone with more than 2 or 3 brain cells knows that when someone tells you it's a "sure thing", that's the bright flashing neon sign that says RUN. Selfish greed is what got these people in trouble.

    This prosperity "gospel" is of the Devil. And Bishop Long and these other "prophets" of God will be held accountable. The Bible promises it.

    "As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed". - Galatians 1:9

    The Bible simply DOES NOT promise people riches and wealth. Anyone that tells you that (a priest, a pastor, a bishop, or anyone else) is flat out lying to you. IMO,there's nothing inherently wrong with being wealthy, but the Bible makes no promises of material wealth. If you're wealthy, great. Be thankful. If you're not, be content with what you do have.

    October 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • B-b

      The bible also says you need to regularly burn a brutally sacrificed animal regularly to please god otherwise he will smite you.

      So which animal did you sacrifice this week, Mark? One of your goats, or the family guinea pig, or your first born rodent of a son?

      October 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Mark

      B-b...

      "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." - Revelation 20:15

      See ya on judgement day brotha. I'll be the one waving to you from the "other" line.

      October 21, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • B-b

      Mark, stop being a wimp. Answer the question: what was the animal that you sacrificed, as your bible commands you to do? God will be angry with you if you can't stand and deliver the blood stench.

      Which animal was it? One of your goats, or the family guinea pig, or your first born rodent of a son?

      October 21, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Rick

      Mark: You do realize that quoting the bible to people who don't accept the authority of the bible has only so much effectiveness, don't you?

      October 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  14. Shazzles

    It's long been known that this guy is a booty warrior. He's been scamming people for a while. It must be god's will. Wait, doesn't the bible god hate people like him for being, "different?" Such a conundrum!

    October 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  15. Irma Robinson

    We should always pray before we make dicisions and then wait for God's answer. Let the Holy Spirit lead you into all rightousness and truth..........PEACE!!

    October 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Shazzles

      Oh yeah. It worked wonders for these people that got scammed. Cram the prayers, please.

      October 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • B-b

      Irma, there's just this teensie little small problem with your suggestion. The problem is that no prayer has ever been answered by god, ever. Either your god is as much a crook as Eddie Long or your god doesn't exist.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • wait..

      Oh god, I pray with all my heart and mind and soul that you please give this poor woman, Irma a brain and capability to think..

      Um.. sorry Irma, I tried, but didn't get an answer! guess you lose..

      October 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • castingstones

      Irma, Maybe she did pray. She is not the perpetrator, but the victim.

      October 24, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  16. LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

    BOO!

    October 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  17. Reality

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals (like Rev. Long) and atonement theology,

    October 21, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Praise God for the anonymity of the internet otherwise that would be a charge of slander.

      October 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Cancerboy

      Slander is verbal. Libel is written. Praises to allah and jesus and George Carlin for the stupidity of those using the internet to not know the difference or else everyone would be getting sued.

      October 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen

      October 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • redragon

      Awesome post Reality... thank you.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  18. News Flash

    Eddie Long is seriously "disturbed". To wit : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCW6F4BV0zw

    October 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Regis990

      Good stuff!

      October 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  19. AGeek

    The Catholic Religion; Parting fools from their money for a long, long, LONG time.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • News Flash

      Nah. All religions. If you are stupid enough to fall for it, too bad for you.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • AGeek

      I dunno .. I don't remember the last time I saw a Buddhist doin' the money grubbin', power grubbin' thing on TV. OTOH, just about every Abrahamaic religion does.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • J.W

      I do not think that this church is Catholic.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • AGeek

      Then we'll simply go with "an Abrahamaic derivative". Now if you'll pardon me, I need to spin up Send Me Your Money. 😉

      October 21, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Rick in CO

      J.W – No, it's not a Catholic church. But never let the facts get in the way of a good self-righteous Internet rant, I always say!

      October 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • SMUG BELIEVER

      I pray for all of your poor souls!

      October 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Rick

      Pray to whomever you wish, Smug. Perhaps he/she/it will give you a set of cojones so you could stand like a free man

      October 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  20. Stop

    That happens when you go to church to listen to what a selfish man has to say and not what God's tells us in the BIble.

    Jesus NEVER offered richness in his message... he even said that his kingdom wasn't part of this world, neither his followers, because the physical part of the world we are living does not fits any of his teachings. If all this things are going to pass soon there's no reason to keep seecking richness. The actual financial crisis says it all.

    We've been warned for many years now. I'm so sorry for her.

    October 21, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Reality

      Mark 15:1-5 = Matt 27:1-2,11-14 = Luke 23:1-5 (1c) John 18:28-38;19:4-16 (The Scene Before Pilate) have been analyzed by many contemporary NT scholars. Many of these scholars have concluded that the scene in not historic.

      e.g. Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 106, " The scene is unhistorical and an example of how history has been inferred from prophesy. "

      Also see Professors JD Crossan and JL Reed's book, Excavating Jesus, pp. 223-229.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Reality

      e.g. Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 106, " The scene is unhistorical and an example of how history has been inferred from prophecy."

      October 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Shazzles

      Hey Stop, so jesus wants his followers to be broke and miserable then? If his alleged kingdom isn't part of this world, then why does he keep asking for money? And how did mary ever get knocked up?

      October 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      Also look at debates where NT Wright and Craig, as a sampling, have slammed the beloved Crossan for this book and the biases set forth in the Jesus seminars.... If you really want to look at what MOST NT scholars believe on this issues.

      October 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Reality

      The largest of the issues has been solved by extensive reviews and rational thinking:

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection/Easter Con/Disease:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      October 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
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